Five corporations honored for eight years by the Corporate Responsibility Officer Association for excellent business ethics and five corporations dishonored by having at least one corporate executive convicted of fraud were the sample used in this qualitative study of business ethics. In the study, the words used by the corporations in analyst conference calls, shareholder meetings, annual reports, annual filings with the SEC, and corporate web sites were analyzed to learn if there were differences between the ethical and the unethical corporations that might help predict the propensity of a corporation to commit fraud. The words selected for use in the study to determine differences were from already-developed and validated value inventories. The study found that there were differences in both the words chosen by the corporations and the relative number of occurrences of the words by the corporations. Ethical corporations used more value-laden words in total and chose words that were related specifically to individual and personal values, as opposed to collective values.
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